Category Archives: stories and series

Election Night 2016 in New York City

Note: I wasn’t going to post anything about the election, but these tiny updates got a lot of love on Facebook, so I’m posting them here for more to see.

Part I: Sixth Avenue, Fox News to the Hilton

Fox News Studio, 2016 election night
The scene outside Fox Studio, election night 2016

There was no way I was going to watch the election returns from home, so at about 8:00 I hopped the F train into the city. My inadvertent first stop was the Fox News studio. I joined a small, civilized crowd chaperoned by counterterrorism police to watch Megyn Kelly and the gang analyze the initial returns as a giant map of the United States started to take on colors. There was nothing much to see, so I continued on to my next stop—the Hilton!

Trump moved his operations to the Hilton for the night, and I was dying to see what it looked like since the Hilton is home to my favorite public bathroom in Midtown. Television trucks lined Sixth Avenue, and I noticed several side streets blocked off by sanitation trucks filled to the brim with sand and what looked like pieces of concrete. I asked a cop why they were there, and he said the trucks were “for emergency.” His body language cut off any further questions so I left it at that and walked into the hotel lobby.

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Night of a Thousand Stevies

Night of a Thousand Stevies
Night of a Thousand Stevies 26

My friend and I have been talking about going for years. But like a lot of things, we kept putting it off. She got married and had kids, I moved and stayed restless, other stuff happened. Time flew.

Now her kids are finally older, and I’m more or less settled. At her birthday party last year we talked about going again, and about two months ago I thought about maybe getting tickets for this year. As the thought played around my head, iTunes served up “Gypsy” at random.

NOTS 26 fans
My friends and I finally made it to NOTS

Talk about a sign. A few mouse clicks and $70 later, I had two tickets to Night of a Thousand Stevies.

I love Stevie Nicks. For me she’s right up there with Cher, Debbie Harry, and Patti Smith: smart, strong, gorgeous women who do their own thing, and damn the men who can’t keep up. Some find Stevie too flaky and out there but I disagree. Her music skews to the pop side of rock for sure, but I don’t understand how people miss the darkness and melancholy under all that pop sheen.

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May Day with Red Shirley

A few years before he died, a man interviewed his cousin a few days before she turned one hundred.

Their interview became a documentary, and this past May Day I saw that documentary and got to listen to the man’s sister, widow, and a few other people talk to a standing-room only crowd at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum about the cousins.

Red Shirley
Red Shirley and her mandolin

Lou Reed was the man, and his cousin was Shirley Novick – Red Shirley! Who was she? If she had a LinkedIn profile, you’d see she was a dressmaker, now retired after years in NYC’s Garment District. She worked in an Italian shop, and a career highlight was seeing Liza Minnelli wearing one of her dresses on TV (when being on TV meant something).

If she was on Facebook, her feed might hold posts of her visiting her sisters at a kibbutz in a very young Israel, images from the Civil Rights March on Washington, and a few pictures of moving day, when she moved for the last time into an apartment courtesy of her union’s housing development in West Chelsea. She might have tagged her sister and cousin in a few backstage shots taken at the Velvet Underground’s reunion concert at Wembley Stadium in 1993, too.

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Hotel hostage: Far-out art in Montgomery, Alabama

It is rude to stare.

I know this, but I couldn’t help it.

The three of them were like nothing I had ever seen. Where were they from, and who made their clothes? How long had they been hanging around? Did they even like each other? I’ll never know, but I do know they’d been in the lobby long enough to give off a tense, weird energy that made it impossible for me to concentrate on the simple questions I was asked as I checked into the Marriott Hotel in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.

Business travel is rarely glamorous. You’re never quite in a city proper, and once you’ve gotten your rental car and driven the 20-30 minutes to the suburb where all your business action is, you’re so drained from getting from A to B that, rather than being fun, ordering room service becomes another ordeal you have to navigate so your expense report won’t get rejected by finance.

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Home these days in Worcester, MA

Everyone’s got a hometown, and mine is Worcester, MA.

Sad to see Tweeds is gone.
Sad to see Tweeds is gone.

These days I love it, especially since I don’t live there anymore and come back to visit. I just got back from one of those visits, and this trip, like the others, had a theme.

I gotta see what’s closed.

This time, the big shock was Tweed’s on Grove Street. Tweed’s was a steady-Eddie pub place, and I was sad to see it gone. I shouldn’t have been surprised since earlier this I was shocked to the bone to see that its neighbor, Gervais Car Wash, was no more.

I will always miss Gervais.
I will always miss Gervais.

Across the street from a cemetery, Gervais always looked closed even when it was open. It had a gritty exterior that would have been a perfect location shot for Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, or any Scorsese movie. Gervais is one of my childhood landmarks—my Dad used to take my brother and me there on Saturdays to gussy up his white Buick (the one with no floorboards in the back that he covered with plywood). To make the experience a little less terrifying, Dad gave each segment of the car wash a name, and in no time my brother and I would ask when we’d go see the Whipper Snapper guys suds up the car to get it nice and clean.

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